Truly the Most Affordable Program in Brazil from $ 400/ 2 weeks

Video and Photos

English class
English class
English class
English class
Children from Seeda's centre
Children from Seeda's centre
Seeda who runs a day care centre for kids from a favela
Seeda who runs a day care centre for kids from a favela
A drum bought through donations for a local caporia school.
A drum bought through donations for a local caporia school.
Stationary bought through donations.
Stationary bought through donations.
Football equipment bought through donations.
Football equipment bought through donations.

About

Iko Poran offers a wide range of safe, affordable and responsible volunteer programs in Rio de Janeiro. These include Teaching, Childcare, Child Development, Community Development, Environmental Protection, Sports Development, Arts & Design, and a special program preparing costumes for the big Carnival parade. We have the perfect volunteer project that matches your skills and interests.

- Start dates: 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month
- Programs can last from 1 to 24 weeks
- You have Fridays and weekends off to relax and explore
- You receive an orientation covering the culture of Brazil and a tour of the city
- Programs with 4 weeks or more include a free 20 hours Portuguese course
- You’ll be joining the best-rated voluntary organization in Brazil with 17 years experience
- Ours is the most affordable program & registration fee in Brazil!
- Recognized as a Public Interest Organization since 2007

Apply today for the best travel experience

Highlights
  • We believe that volunteering shouldn’t cost the earth. Registration fee is only $ 149 and program fees start at only $400 for two weeks
  • We are the only international volunteering organization to be based in a developing country that also runs its own projects. Most providers are profit-making travel companies based in First World nations.
  • We are non-profit – fees received cover our costs and help us to achieve our mission by contributing to local programs. You pay the program fee directly to the local organization (in Brazil, this is Iko Poran)
  • You take part in programs developed and operated by local partner organizations and their respective community councils
  • We focus on providing a good experience for you - welcome, orientation, accommodation, placement and ongoing support.

Questions & Answers

Hi Sabrina, Thank you for your interest in our programs. You can find detailed information about the fees on the Brazil's webpage and also on the Fees webpage of our website. Please feel free to ask any other questions you have. We are always happy to help :)
Hi Sabrina, Thank you for your message. The sooner you start the application process the better. First because you will secure your placement in our highest tourist season (summer on the Northern Hemisphere), and also because you will receive our pre-departure material, including fundraising guides, that can help you cover the expenses of your trip. The program fee is due only 30 days before the...
Nowadays we only use a hostel and a volunteer house. Last July we had 25 volunteers at a time, 10 at the house and 15 at the hostel. They are both located in Santa Teresa neighborhood and volunteers usually do things together.

Reviews

95%
based on 43 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9
Showing 31 - 43 of 43
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Ute
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best experience of my life

In summer 2015 I packed my bags and went with the organisation Iko Poran to Rio de Janeiro to teach English in an NGO in a favela called Batan in Rio's West Zone (zona oeste). I had never taught before in my life and I was a bit scared as to what would be expected of me. Luckily I was placed with another volunteer on the project, Charles, and we jumped into the deep end together.

We worked in the "Centro Social e Cultural Tatiane Lima", which had not seen a lot of volunteers teaching English for a long time, so the first few weeks we did a lot of improvised classes, as we could never be sure how many students would turn up or what their level of English would be. After a while word had spread though and after Charles had left, I was able to establish two Basic courses twice a week and one Advanced course once a week with another volunteer, where more or less the same students showed up and we could build on the achievements of the previous weeks.

Teaching itself was always a challenge, but because this was Brazil everything was a lot more relaxed. We had the freedom to do pretty much anything, as long as everybody had fun and would leave class with having learned at least one little thing.
Most of the students were very attentive and up for the challenge, and some of them even stayed back after class to ask more questions about something they read or lyrics in music they listened to. All my students were absolutely amazing an I can say that I learned a bit from everyone - mostly Portuguese. :) As much as you are there to teach them, it's the best way to improve your language skills!

The NGO is run by a couple - Luciano and Eliane - and those two have made their way straight into my heart. I struggle to find words for how open, lovely, forthcoming and amazing they have been with me and there are not enough thank yous in the world to express my gratitude for what they have done for me. I enjoyed every second of my time there, and, needless to say, when it was time to say goodbye, we were all crying our eyes out. I know it sounds cheesy, but these people have become my new family, and I literally can't wait until I return.

I'd also like to stress that during my time I was looked after by Felipe from Iko Poran, and I'd like to thank him for placing me on this particular project - it could not have been better! In 3 months I've seen and learned things that I have not learned in 35 years of my life. This time in Rio was so precious and the memories of it will stay in my heart forever, like the countless people I met along the way. It was the best experience of my life and I can just advise everybody that's thinking about volunteering to do it! Yes, it's scary at first, but if you keep an open mind and open heart and accept the sometimes peculiar Brasilian ways (jeitinhos brasileiros) you will have an amazing time.

What would you improve about this program?
For me everything was brilliant. :) The only thing I'd say is that for certain projects there should probably be a minimum age, but it's hard to say really.
Default avatar
Philippine
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

First time in Brazil

Coming to Brazil I wanted to discover something new, I didn't want to see this beautiful country just as a tourist that's why I chose volunteering. And this turned out to be a wonderful experience at all points; working with locals you meet great people who show you the culture, the language and beyond that, meeting volunteers from abroad was such an experience that I recommend to every people who want to make a useful and exotic break with daily life! You won't regret it!

Default avatar
Tim
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Iko Poran - Urban Environment Volunteer programme

I had a great time during my two month stay in Rio. The hostel in which we stayed as was so welcoming, the staff were the greatest and the other volunteers helped make the trip so special, and have certainly made many long-lasting friendships. The programme was very enjoyable. With two different projects it meant that there was some variety. The first project in a community garden working with Ricardo and his wife Dora was lovely. Two of the nicest people you will meet, although they don't speak English they still talk to you and keep you entertained, especially through Ricardo's love of acting out stories. Another bonus is finishing work at midday allows for the rest of the day to be spent at the beach after an exhausting but fun three hours in the sun. The second project at Parque Lage was beautiful. Like all Brazilians, the team were very welcoming. We did some forest conservation work with invasive tree species, by removing them and planting new local trees. One day we even hiked up Corcovado and gained free entry to Christ the Redeemer. The following day with the same team I worked in Pedra da Gavea, a large rock near Barra da Tijuca, doing the same invasive tree project. The opportunity to climb this mountain provides stunning views of Rio from afar. Overall my experience in Rio was amazing. I will certainly be back. This city is not to be missed, the people, beaches, night-life and food are all incredible. I hope to make it my home some day.

What would you improve about this program?
Have a back-up programme for when it is raining, as the project doesn't run on rainy days due to the work being outside - not a problem in the summer, but in the winter, rain does occur occasionally.
Default avatar
Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Child Development - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This journey has been incredible and a real eye opener for me. The volunteer work allows you to experience the country instead of just being a tourist. The children I worked with were the most gentle, caring and inspirational children I have ever had the pleasure of being with. It's a very humbling experience and I believe already that it's changed my view on some things. You need to be prepared for the poverty in Rio, it is heart-breaking to see and if you are very emotional like myself you will struggle with it, especially knowing there is not much that you can do about it. Just keep in mind that whilst you are there you are contributing to the economy and helping support the communities with whatever volunteer work you choose to complete. This was my first time volunteering and I'm so glad I choose this programme and Rio, I felt completely supported by the leader of the programme (Luis Felipe Murray) and all the other volunteers. You get to meet many people from all over the world who are just like you, wanting to make a difference, no matter how big or small that may be. I also received Portuguese lessons which helped so much as many people do not speak any other language. I would recommend Rio de Janeiro to anyone !

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Fabian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My first time in Brazil

My goal was to get to know the culture, the people, the life, the language of Brazil and I am sure this is not possible as a normal tourist. Beside those things I wanted to do something good for people who need help and so I came to this program. And I can say all my goals were completely achieved. I had a great time in Rio regarding everything. Beside the volunteering work you even have enough time for sightseeing, to travel around and just to enjoy the time there. So I can totally recommend such an experience for everyone who really wants to get to know the culture and wants to help!

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Natasja
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Language barriers

Brazil has been on the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and 3 months ago I decided this was the year I go. I had been wanting to volunteer for quite a while and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. After researching my various options of volunteering companies, I decided to go with Iko Poran. This was one of those good life choices. From the first email I sent, till when I left, Felipe was there to answer and assist all the way. The program is really well priced and the hostel is in a good location. Portuguese classes are included, with probably the nicest teacher ever!The other volunteers I met along the way were by far an asset to my trip. Most are like minded and genuinely just want to make a difference, while having fun. The city in itself is amazing, the people, the atmosphere, beaches, everything. This was by far one of the best months of my life!

To my detriment, I never took the time to learn any Portuguese before my trip to Brazil. Upon arrival, I realized that this might have been a really, really bad life choice. Although many Brazilian's do speak Portuguese, the majority of them are not in the service industry. So for the next month I played charades, ever day. The people in the shops around my hostel became familiar with my lack of Portuguese and eventually everybody would partake in guessing what exactly I was looking for. One particular trip to the pharmacy was quite interesting as I was looking for sleeping pills. The game of charades continued an till the customers joined in and we eventually solved the problem after I had made a complete fool of myself:)

What would you improve about this program?
Program was pretty good, if I had to change one thing, more selection of beers in the fridge :D
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Parin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best experience of my life!!!

I was really nervous before arriving in Rio as it was my first time volunteering and also my first time travelling alone. I remember sitting in the car with Felipe, the Coordinator General of Iko Poran, and I was telling him how nervous I was, to which he told me "There is nothing to worry about, you're going to have the time of your life."

He couldn't have been more right! Everything about Rio was amazing. The volunteering program itself was really fun and eye-opening. The other volunteers I met were amazing! Rio really is a cidade maravilhosa. Most of all, Felipe and Iko Poran were amazing. The organisation and care they took for us volunteers were good, and I would recommend Iko Poran to anyone!!

Default avatar
vicky
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Iko Poran - Nos do Cinema

Of all the volunteer abroad programmes I researched this was by far the best value for money. I had a fantastic time, really enjoyed meeting the other volunteers and the Iko Poran staff were fun, friendly and seemed genuinely happy to hang out with us. It was a great way to meet local people and get to know a side of Rio that you would never see otherwise. The accommodation was great and in a fantastic, beautiful and very lively neighbourhood.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked to change the NGO I was involved with as I didn't really have much to do there and felt disjointed from it.
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Lizzy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Feel part of the local community

Initially booked to spend 6 weeks volunteering in Kunta Kinte capoeira school in Santa Teresa, I extended my stay for a further 6 weeks. I tutored English and drama, working with another volunteer to help the kids write and perform in their own short film, and later helping with the pre-school age capoeira lessons (about my level!).

I immediately felt a part of the local community, with invitations to churrascos, recommendations of local places to go, and being asked to help with various local events centred around the school including a Mother's Day celebration, Open Studios weekends and more.

The accommodation provided in Santa Teresa was a real hub for volunteers and locals alike, with musicians and artists often gathering for chilled-out weekend evenings in the communal courtyard. Santa Teresa is so village-like you would hardly believe that you're in the centre of a huge city, but you literally have everything Rio has to offer within minutes of the front door.

The Iko Poran staff were welcoming, friendly and flexible, gave great advice on living in the city, and organised social activities for the volunteers including several group outings to Maracana stadium to see the beloved Botafogo play!

I have wonderful memories of my time in Rio and it was the best way to start my round-the-world trip.

What would you improve about this program?
Some more planning of the volunteer activities in advance would have helped. I was initially expecting to help put a website together for the school, only to find when I arrived that the staff didn't really want one! However, my skills were quickly put to use elsewhere and I can't fault the experience once I had arrived.
Default avatar
Chetan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience of a lifetime

I spent 1 month in Rio de Janeiro, helping Carlão and his football project in Barreira do Vasco. It was a wonderful experience and a great opportunity to meet this wonderful human being. His efforts in the Community to provide a fun academy for the children in the area is incredible. The kids were really fantastic and extremely talented. Not to mention it was impossible to get the ball off many of them! I was really emotional leaving the kids and Carlão, but definitely made a friend for life and still keep in touch.

Iko Poran, were excellent in organising my stay in Brazil and I had a lot of fun with the staff and Felipe, the Director. I felt totally safe and accomodated for and if I needed any assistance or help, the organisation's staff were very easy to get in touch with. Living in Rio does require many precautions and smart thinking for personal safety and blending in with Cariocas but the staff are really helpful with advice when you arrive there.

During the weekdays, voluntary work was the key focus, but in the evenings and weekend there was plenty of opportunity to travel, socialise and take advantage of the wonders of Rio. Music, dancing, culture and arts are richer than in any part of the world and the social scene around Lapa is phenomenal.

This really was a life changing experience. After my month with Iko Poran, I have actually been mentoring one of the kids I met in the Favela. He is brilliant and has so much potential for his career dreams. I am determined to make his dreams come true. Without Iko Poran, I wouldn't have had this chance.

What would you improve about this program?
This programme could be marketed better around the world. It is a fantastic opportunity to really make a difference to people and their lives and I hope we can spread Iko Poran's message even more!
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Dane
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Organization and Wonderful Programs

I spent 6 weeks in Rio de Janeiro volunteering with Iko Proan. I had a wonderful time working with the kids in my programs and will always cherish my experience hanging with Felipe and the gang. I wish I had more time to spend there. All of the other volunteers were great and we had a blast exploring the city during our off time.

What would you improve about this program?
Not much. It was pretty perfect.
Default avatar
Gerbert
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Football trainer in a favela in Rio

I volunteered in Rio de Janeiro as a football trainer and English teacher. Iko Poran placed me in a project called Jocum in the favela Borel. Jocum is a very organized Christian charity with a hospital, music school, women project, football project and they organize a lot of different activities for the community. Safety in the favela was no problem; in fact, the people were very welcoming to me when they knew that I volunteered for Jocum and they were very eager to participate in the program. The participants of the football project are around 18 years old, so playing football with them is a great experience in itself if you like football! Staying there for a longer period gives you the chance to really make a difference and help the people, although a short stay will be great too. Next to the football trainings I also taught the participants of the football project English classes.
As I stayed for almost 3 months with another volunteer, we became good friends with the boys in the favela and they treated us like we were one of them. Still months after volunteering, I'm in touch with many of the boys from the football program and I promised them to come back!

What I liked the best are the relationships we could build with the football players and help them in making their life decisions, eg. about going to school, having work, how to treat the girls in the favela, how to stay away from criminality, etc.

Iko Poran has two houses where you will live with the other volunteers. Living with the other volunteers is a lot of fun and you will enjoy every day/night. At Iko Poran, Zac and Vivi help you with everything you need, they also offer you Portugese language course, which helps you a lot to get around.

What would you improve about this program?
Pricing of the program could be improved. Just to volunteer we paid a lot for accommodation and breakfast. However, the quality of these were pretty bad. The mattresses were bad, kitchen equipment was very old and the wifi barely worked if everybody was back in the hostel.
For breakfast, there were only white slices of bread, cheese, ham, most of the time a piece of fruit, 1 type of cereals, milk and coffee. For none of us this was enough to start a full day of volunteering.
To sum up, nothing too bad, but Iko Poran can easily improve these to improve the experience of the volunteers.
Response from Iko Poran Volunteer Abroad - IKPVA

Dear Gerbert,
Thank you very much for your review. We at Iko Poran are very glad to know you had an awesome time with us in Rio. It is great to know your volunteer program was productive and you feel that you really caused a positive impact.
I just want to address the breakfast and the accommodation issues because you are right: breakfst was not very good and we impoved it with juice, fruits and cereal; there are more bread, ham and cheese for the ones who want to eat more, and we did not raise the price for the accommodation. Besides that, because of your review we changed all the mattresses that were not in good condition.
We really appreciated having you here with us and look forward to seeing you again in the future.
Best wishes,
Iko Poran

Default avatar
David
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Community development - making a real difference

Working for 3 weeks in the favela has been a fabulous way to realy help the locals and make life a little better for the kids, teenagers, their parents and the staff in charge.
We were 3 volunteers to help out Cleidy, a dynamic and wonderful woman, who runs (almost all by herself) a place that provides a safe learning place for kids. There are basic English classes, computers (without internet connexion), books to read, a room to practice samba or ballet and a court yard to play outside (in a depressing state). Throughout all activities, the key message is always "study and use birth control if you want to have a better life!"
When arriving the first day with our local coordinator Vivi, it was clear that a lot of work had to be done. While the enthusiasm of the staff and the very warm welcome were great, we were overwelmed by the limited infrastructure. We decided to take it step-by-step and make sure that walls got cleaned and painted, rooms were cleared and the court yard freshened up by plants and flowers and a friendly, huge, educational wall painting. While doing this, the kids (between 5 and 18 years of age) and the staff were most of the time around, chatting to us, helping or just observing :-)
What I liked most is the fact that we have been able to make a small contribution that realy makes a difference. Things go slow in Brazil and priorities are different in the Favela but the enthusiasm and gratitude is the best gift we could receive!

What would you improve about this program?
In some cases it would be helpful if specific tasks/projects were identified prior to the first day of work. In my case, we have lost precious time due to the lack of preparation (discussing with locals, sorting out materials, changing priorities etc.)

More money and volunteers for the local projects.